New information emerges on Hezbollah commander’s assassination
February 20, 2013 2 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A Lebanese newspaper has published the most detailed account to date of the 2008 assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah. The car explosion that killed Mughniyah in Syrian capital Damascus on February 12, 2008, is widely believed to have been the work of the Mossad, Israel’s foremost covert-action agency. Mughniyah was among the founders of Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group that controls large parts of southern Lebanon. At the time of his assassination, Mughniyah headed the Hezbollah’s security apparatus and was among the organization’s most senior intelligence officials. On Tuesday, Arabic-language newspaper al-Akhbar , which is based in Lebanese capital Beirut and is informally affiliated with Hezbollah, published a detailed article that reads like an unclassified version of the militant group’s internal investigation into Mughniyah’s killing. The article claims that “Hezbollah is absolutely positive that Israel was behind [...] the operation from A to Z”. It says that Mughniyah’s assassins “were not Syrian citizens”, but rather entered Syria from abroad and stayed there six weeks while planning and executing the assassination operation. The article also claims that the Mossad recruited a Syrian expatriate, who visited Damascus on a regular basis in order to provide logistical support for the operation. This included renting a villa in the outskirts of Damascus and purchasing at least three vehicles to be used in the operation. The al-Akhbar report states that Mugniyah was killed at 10:25 p.m., as he was leaving an organizational meeting with leaders of the Palestinian group Hamas in the Kfar Suseh neighborhood of Damascus. As the Hezbollah commander approached his car, another car parked nearby, a 2006 Mitsubishi Pajero, exploded killing him instantly. This differs from accounts that emerged shortly after Mughniyah’s assassination, which claimed that the Hezbollah strongman had been killed by explosives planted inside the headrest of his car’s driver’s seat. Al-Akhbar claims that the Mossad team that killed Mugniyah was able to monitor the operation from inside a nearby building that was under construction at the time. The paper’s report concludes that Hezbollah’s mistake was treating Syria as “one of the safest places” for its commanders, and presuming that Israel would not target Syria with direct operations.